1) Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a driver who you can be confident making your fantasy pick for the Talladega Aaron’s 499. The odds makers like him because he’s a 10/1 favorite to win. Earlier this season at Daytona Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended a nearly decade long winless streak on restrictor plate tracks. In the Daytona 500 he earned the best driver rating, led the most laps and had the best driver rating. In other recent races at Daytona he’s also had success. Since 2012 at Daytona he’s finished in the top ten in every race but one and has a 5.6 average finish. At Talladega Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had a successful career. He’s a five-time winner who’s finished in the top ten 50% percent of the time. It’s important to note his last Dega win was back in 2004. Last fall he had a good chance to return to victory lane but on the last lap while he was running in 2nd an accident ensued and he never got an opportunity to make a move for the lead. The spring race at Talladega has been Dale Earnhardt Jr’s specialty. In the spring races since 2007 he has the best average finish (8.9), most top tens (5), highest top fifteen percentage (86% percent), best average running position (11.9) and is the only driver who finished in the top twenty in all seven races. This week Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be piloting a new chassis. On Sunday he’ll start back in 31st.
2) Matt Kenseth – Matt Kenseth is an elite driver on restrictor plate tracks. When it comes to managing the draft he belongs in the conversation for being the best driver in the series. When he’s out front leading he’s difficult to get around because he makes his car really wide. Last spring at Talladega Matt Kenseth ran a great race but during a late restart he got shuffled from the lead and didn’t have time to recover. In the race he finished 8th, led 142 laps, had a 2nd place average running position and earned the best driver rating. Last fall at Talladega he also had a good car but in the second half of the race the #20 got extremely tight. In that race he finished 20th, led 32 laps and earned the 8th best driver rating. In 2012 at Talladega he had results of 1st and 3rd. This season at Daytona Kenseth performed well. He won his respective Duel 150 and in the Daytona 500 he finished 6th and earned the 8th best driver rating. Two attributes I really like about Kenseth heading into the Aaron’s 499 are that he’s performed well on a week to week basis this season and he’s avoided trouble on the track. His 7.4 average finish ranks as the 2nd best and his worst result is 13th. Currently Kenseth has a five race top ten streak. His odds to win are listed at 12/1. On Sunday he’ll start in 22nd.
3) Brad Keselowski – Talladega has been a good track for Brad Keselowski. He’s a two-time winner who’s finished in the top ten 60% percent of the time. His top fifteen percentage is 70%. In spring 2009 Keselowski made his first start here and he also went to victory lane that day. In that race he only led 1 lap but it came when it counted. In spring 2012 he returned to victory lane. That win was more impressive because during that race weekend it was widely accepted you didn’t want to be leading on the last lap. Keselowski was leading on the final lap and in the turns he made a move that slowed down Kyle Busch who was drafting off of him. Also if your fantasy league rewards points for leading laps don’t overlook him. He’s led in 8 of his 10 starts. Last season at Talladega Keselowski didn’t have a great year. In the spring he finished 15th and in the fall he had all sorts of issues and finished 29th. At Daytona earlier this season Keselwoski was impressive and clearly had one of the strongest cars at the end. In the race he finished 3rd, earned the 2nd best driver rating and led 13 laps. In Happy Hour on Friday he said that he thinks his car this weekend is better than his Daytona 500 car. This week Keselowski is using a new chassis. and his odds to win are listed at 12/1. On Sunday he’ll start in 13th.